A Letter to My Daughters on Internet Selfies

Don’t put naked pictures on the internet. The end.

Kidding! Totally not the end. I’ve got a lot to say about this.

We live in a very strange world. It’s so incomprehensibly different than it was when I was your age, and I know I really don’t understand what it’s like to be an adolescent right now. I’m sorry for that. I so often wish I could stop this mad world and turn things back to when you didn’t need to worry that the entire world would get a glimpse of your life through your Instagram feed. Back before people were famous just for being famous; before the competition to be the popular became a lifestyle. Before ordinary people could use filters to make their lives appear to be something they’re not. Before decency and modesty and class went out of style. But I can’t.

And you know what? This messed-up, crazy, broken, brilliant world? I love it so much. I hope you do, too. There is so much good.

But back to being naked online.

Here’s the thing. I’m not going to tell you not to post nude selfies because it’s indecent (although it is) or because I can’t stand exhibitionism (although I can’t). I’m not going to ask you not to do this because it’s classless and base and voyeuristic, although it is all of those things.

I’m asking you not to post nude pictures of yourself on the internet because you live in a world where 90% of the people who know you, don’t really know you. They know the internet personality you have put out there. They know one facet of you.

A diamond is beautiful because it is multi-faceted. It is cut so that it’s many faces catch the light and send it back, sparkling and glowing, into the world. If you have just one of those facets, its beauty is gone. A single facet is like a pane of glass – rather boring but valuable because it lets us see through it. Your one facet that you show to the world on Twitter is like a pane of glass. No one who sees it knows the brilliance of who you are in all your facets. They only see this one window into you.

There’s nothing wrong with that. In life you’ll find that your people come in spheres. A vast number of people will be in the outer sphere, far from your true self, only seeing the piece of you that you show them. A smaller number will know there are more sides to you. They’ll see more of your facets, but not all. A very, very select few will ever know all of you, and I pray desperately that those people will see the glorious beauty of who you are.

When you post a picture of yourself on the internet, you are choosing a facet to give to the world. This is true of every tweet, every Facebook update, every everything you do. The key is to stop and consider – what side of myself am I showing? If this picture (post, whatever) were the only thing someone knew of me, what would they think? Because for many, many people, that picture is the only thing they will know of you.

Will they think you’re funny? Smart? Surrounded by good friends? Really good at decorating your room? Compassionate? Tender? Hard-working? All good things. Some are shallow, but let’s face it – pretty much everything on Instagram is shallow.

On the other hand, will that one picture of you make them think you’re vain? A show off? Shameless? Cruel? Lazy?

If it seems unfair that people will judge you based on a single picture, you’re starting to get my point. You might insist that you aren’t lazy or vain, and that if people only knew you they would understand that – but they won’t. They’ll only know that one piece of you that you present to them.

So post carefully. But also remember that no matter what you post, if you make a mistake and send something into the void that you wish you could take back, I will be here for you. I’ll have your back. We’ll walk that out together, because I see you as the whole, incredible, marvelous, beautiful, wonderful person you are. Every facet.

I love you,

Mom

 

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